Anti-Catholic hate crimes tripled in Canada since 2020: report

Between 2020 and 2021, hate crimes against Catholics vaulted from 43 to 155 cases.

Anti-Catholic hate crimes tripled in Canada since 2020: report
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According to a recently-published report by the Christian think tank Cardus, "hate crimes" against Catholics have tripled in Canada since 2020. Between 2020 and 2021, hate crimes against Catholics vaulted from 43 to 155 cases.

In collaboration with the Angus Reid Institute, Cardus surveyed Canadians who identify as "non-religious" on their perceptions of religion. Those who viewed religion as having a "very bad" or "more bad than good" impact on daily life increased sharply from 2017 to 2022.

According to a March 16 report, Toward a Hopeful Future: Facing Down Religious Hate, the rise in anti-Catholic hate crimes reflected the upward trend of discrimination faced by all faiths. In 2009, residents reported 415 hate crime incidents. In 2021, that more than doubled to 900.

"The rise of religious hate crimes is occurring against a backdrop of increasingly negative public attitudes toward the contributions of religion and faith communities to Canada," said the report.

According to the March 16 communique, atheists and agnostics expressed intense hostility towards persons of faith. Almost half of the respondents view religious communities and their contribution to Canada unfavourably.

While the report contends, "only a tiny fraction of Canadians commit hate is reasonable to assume that those accused of religious hate crimes may be encouraged by declining respect for or acceptance of religion and religious persons."

The most recent Canadian census traced the Catholic population shrunk from 12.8 million in 2011 to 10.9 million in 2021. The mismanagement of residential schools and the discovery of hundreds of alleged unmarked graves impeded Catholics from leaving the church.

Since 2020, over 70 Catholic churches across Canada have been "suspiciously" vandalized or burned, with as many as ten churches in Alberta vandalized on July 1, 2021.

Most churches were sprayed with red paint to protest the Roman Catholic church's role in Canada's residential school system.

"These folks came to Canada hoping to practice their faith peacefully. Some of them are traumatized by such attacks," said then-Premier Jason Kenney of Catholic Albertans.

"This is where hatred based on collective guilt for historic injustices leads us. Let's seek unity, respect & reconciliation instead."

The vandalism came after suspected arson burned down several churches to the ground in suspicious fires nationwide.

In a suspected arson, a church in Morinville, Alberta, was burned down and reduced to rubble a few days prior.

St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church — constructed in 1908 — burned to the ground early morning, taking local firefighters several hours to get the fire under control. By then, the blaze had destroyed the church. 

Cardus recommended public figureheads "set the tone for religious inclusion by using their platforms to highlight the important contributions and services that faith communities provide and to speak out against religious hatred in all forms, especially when that hatred takes the form of violence."

In conclusion, the report said, "The rise in hate crimes against religious communities, and the increasingly negative attitudes on the part of some Canadians toward the presence of religion in public life and the contributions of faith communities, should concern us all."

According to the Catholic organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the situation for Christians grows increasingly direr globally. Human rights violations against them in at least 18 countries have worsened since 2017. 

The report, titled Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22 summarized how conditions have progressively worsened for Christians.

In November 2020, hundreds of people, including priests and other church elders, died in a series of attacks, culminating in a massacre at Ethiopia's Orthodox Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum, the supposed location of the Ark of the Covenant.

According to reports, Islamic extremists killed more than 7,600 Nigerian Christians between January 2021 and June 2022. The adherence to Sharia law in Saudi Arabia also keeps Christians a silent, unseen minority — and there is "little sign of change on the horizon." 

Because of a lack of political will in such countries, they continue to enforce a ban on church-building, the public display of crosses and other Christian symbols, and the import of Bibles and other Christian texts. 

In Asia, particularly in North Korea, state authoritarianism constitutes the oppression of Christians. In contrast, religious nationalism played a significant role in suppressing Christianity and other minority faith groups in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of Asia.

Political victories by religious nationalist parties in Sri Lanka and India reinforced and encouraged climates that "othered" minorities. Hindutva and Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist groups targeted Christians and their places of worship, with local police arresting believers or stopping Church services.

This "othering" also occurs in Pakistan, where Christians and members of other non-Muslim faiths can find themselves vulnerable within society and subject to increased risk of harassment, arrest and violence — which in some parts of the country frequently includes kidnapping and rape.

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